“What is the role/responsibility of the poet in today’s society?” asked Aubrey Gerhradt in an email to Ernest Hilbert.  Here is his response:

“Sadly, the role of the poet seems to have descended to that of professional academic. However, I can comment on what the role of the poet ought to be. Poetry is an ancient art form, the oldest and, when properly wielded, most powerful of the literary arts. It dates back thousands of years, possibly, in some rude form of incantation, to prehistory. By comparison, the novel is a rather recent invention. Serious poets today may see themselves as keepers of a divine flame, an ancient practice that has fallen into dark times, crowded out by the vociferous din of information and noise that pollutes our lives, pouring into our ears and eyes from a thousand sources. We live in a very unstable age, in some regards, with technology run amok, the reported death of the book, and even of literacy itself. But poets should take heart. Their art predates the printed book and stretches into the dimmest, most savage and mysterious origins of culture itself. Poems may be composed on the tongue, recited by heart, and heard by all. One not need know how to read in order to enjoy a poem when it is performed. Poetry is not only older but also deeper than many other art forms, using the most powerful and appropriate language available, in the most persuasive and musical manner possible, to achieve transcendent meaning and sensation in its audience.”
-Ernest Hilbert